2001 Oct 5 (Fri), 16:16 Hello, my name is Dr. Greenthumb....
Ooog.... Long week. Wednesday my wife and I went to Phoenix for some geneology work (actually, my wife went for that, I went because I drove her up there and provided safety ;-) We took a friend of my wife's there to the LDS Family History Center there. I went and spent the day in the Mesa Library perusing David Olofson's engine for his SKobo (working title) port. This seems to be one heck of an engine, and I'm keen to see it turn into a library engine of its own (it could really help some of my games ;-)

We now have an online poll for TuxMath- trying to figure out what we should do with respect to the city animations. You can take the poll here.

Hmmm... I know there were many other things that happenned... (or else, why am I so tired?)... but I can't think of them right now so I'll sign off.

2001 Oct 13 (Sat), 15:10 Amalgamated Spam-roids

I have had such a long week... and I will have an even longer weekend.

Monday, I started my new job, back with the U of A Physics Dept. I am back in the sysadmin crew, but this time I am staff. This job is only part-time, but I have also been busy dealing with lots of other issues and job prospects that I was regularily away from home as though I was working a full-time job. Basically, I haven't had hardly any time this week to deal with Tux4Kids stuff.

One thing I did have time to deal with was get the Tux4Kids web-site up at tux4kids.org. I spent this morning splitting out the Geekcomix site from the new Tux4Kids site. I know I have more to do, and I'm sure I'll find plenty of things I've missed, but I should have the migration reasonably complete within a week or so.

Jesse made Mac ports for both TuxMath and TuxType. But I haven't had much time to deal with them. Hopefully, I wont have to deal with them in the future because I am negotiating with someone to act as a Build/Release Support Manager for Tux4Kids. In the future, it would be this person who would be in charge of this.

Anyway... I have lots to do, but I will probably post another diary entry sometime over the weekend to keep everyone updated.....

2001 Oct 17 (Wed), 21:42 Like Spit on Ugly

Man... no time lately. Here's what I have pending on my plate (just so anyone reading this knows what to expect from me over the next week or so):
  • Get a simple online budget tool for Tux4Kids to show what finances we've rec'd in (such as the LinuxFund grant) and what we're spending it on. I really want to emulate the OPN Fund Ledger since I like its look. Unfortunately, I can't find any software to do this for me, so I'm hacking together a Noink module to do it.
  • Get a release management web tool for our new release manager (official announcement pending ;-) Here, again, since I can't find a pre-existing tool I may have to hack a new Noink module.
  • Send my monthly report to LinuxFund for the grant (we have a PR person, my wife, but she'd new and doesn't exactly know what's going on...)
  • Continue negotiating some possible hardware and infrastructure donations we may or may not receive in the near future.
Erm.... hmm... that's all I can think of right now. Anyone with any suggestions or wanted to help us with any of these things.... please feel free to contact me ;-)

So, anyway.... not quite dead yet....

2001 Oct 25 (Thu), 09:27 Uncle Ugly

Woah... still busy. SOOOO busy in fact I still haven't finished all I said I would last time. I am planning on writing up my monthly progress report to LinuxFund.org TODAY (since I'm yet to do it). Actually, my wife should be the one to handle it (since she's now the Tux4Kids PR person), but she is new and doesn't completely know what needs to be in this report... so I'll probably be doing it myself this time.

Other announcements from that GeoCrawler link: Calvin Ardnt will be our Build/Release Support Manager for Tux4Kids, and we're moving our lists to @tux4kid.org.

On the home-front, I've been having issues with my desktop. I suspect that certain components of my system are failing, but I haven't had much time to determine which.

It's my birthday this weekend (the 27th). I already got my presents though (I'm a real brat when it comes to presents ;-) I got NBA Street for my PS2, which is an awesome game. However, we rented Silent Hill 2, which has pre-occupied me for the last couple of days. Damn this is one scary game. It's made me jumpy- yesterday my wife walked up behind me with a bathmat (I was brushing my teeth, and she needed me to move so she could put the mat down) and it scared me so bad I screamed like a little girl. Today I was walking down the hall, and a Physics Prof. came around the corner just in front of me and it made me jump. Perhaps I should stop playing the game? ;-)

2001 Oct 27 (Sat), 14:22 Happy B-Day, Sam! How about a dead HDD?

Well, today's my birthday.... and I am now certain that the hardware problems I have been having are due to a failing hard disk! I keep getting these drive seek errors reported on the console, and every once in a while I get read problems that crash apps.

The thing that makes this really bad is that it's my second HDD on my dekstop that's going. This drive is less than a two years old! My desktop came with this 6 GB drive that I very rapidly filled up, so I got this second 20 GB one. The original 6 GB one runs fine, but this 20 GB one seems to be failing.

I forget exactly the models, but the 6 GB HDD that came with the computer is an IBM (the system is an IBM Aptiva E3N) and the newer 20 GB was a Maxtor. I have heard people having troubles with Maxtor drives in general, but I was yet to have any negative experience with one (I have had a few others in the past). I did have troubles this last year with my den AC, so I guess it may have taken some damage there.... but I doubt it. Chances are the drive just sucks.

I have a new drive coming (IBM Deskstar 60 GXP 40 GB) from the LinuxFund Grant, but I worry it may not get here in time to replace this HDD.

If you can't get a hold of me in a day or two, you'll know the reason why ;-)

I spent a few hours working on the Tux4Kids move into it's new domain, and separation from Geekcomix. Hopefully I can get some good work in on these things (and possibly some development) before my drive goes any further south ;-).

2001 Oct 29 (Mon), 08:59 SNOOOOOOD!

I have a new enemy.... A blight on the surface of my existance.... That enemy is Snood.

Okay, Snood is this dumb little Bust a Move wannabe shareware game. Well, I normally have a lot of problems with shareware/guiltware/freeware (note that freeware != Free-Software). I find them to be lack-luster, obfuscated, crappy, idiotic peices of dren that the authors should be ashamed of and could only be half-way decent if they were community developed (as in Open-Sourced or GPL/LGPL-ed) allowing others to collaborate/fix/refine them. However, my beef with Snood is not that it's a crappy shareware knock-off of a well-known game... it's that it's making my life a living hell.

Part of my current job responsabilities at UA PAS are the upkeep and maintenance of the undergraduate Windows computer lab. Actually, when I worked here before, that was part of my job as well. In fact I was the one who came up with the current system of cloning the undergraduate Windows machines. (I did this clever little thing with bootable CD-ROMs and clone images ;-)

Anyway, in the four or five weeks I have been back, I have had to re-clone seven of these Windows machines. Of those seven, five were due to massive SirCam virus infections. Of those five, ALL of them had infected Snood binaries on them.

Now, it's against our policy for games to be on these machines, but normally over the weekends the students get a bit cunning and essentially take over the lab. (This is the way it's been down there since I first came to the UA in '95, short of PAS hiring someone to be in the room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there's not much that can be done...) So, Monday mornings I go in and clean things up.

Well, every week I find these machines raped and infected with diseases, and (so far) Snood has been at the center of it. Snood's been the binary that *seems* to take the rest of the system down.

So I now have another reason to hate Snood (aside from the fact it's a puss-filled shareware hunk of dren ;-)

2001 Oct 30 (Tue), 06:51 Gratitude

Okay, get this.... apparently the undergrad lab troubles I mentionned yesterday are the work of a nefarious person. I know this because I had to go back down and rebuild another machine after my post yesterday. Immediately after the machine was rebuilt, it was infected remotely (i.e. someone cracked in through the network) with another SirCam virus. It was infected with this virus while I was sitting there.

The thing is, the only way you could know that the machine was up and ready to be cracked into was for someone to be there in the room with me. In other words, one of the students using the room had to be the one doing this.

So I looked around the room, and I spied the author of this. Now this guy has been vocal in the past against me cleaning up the machines in this lab (because he has been caught playing games [specifically "Snood" & Tribes] on them). He has shown a great deal of animosity towards me whenever I was in the room. This is especially funny because in the article I mention above, I was the "linux guru" who helped him with his laptop (some two or three years ago). He also is someone who'd be tech-savvy enough to do something like this. Plus, he was frantically and angrily typing away at the system he was at. A quick browsing of the MS network showed that he had effectively locked everyone (including administrators such as myself) from his desktop. Basically, he was the strongest culprit for the person doing this attack. However, we can't exactly prove he was the one cracking the machine I was on (basically, because of Win98's many flaws) in spite of the fact that all the evidence was pointing to him.

So I rebuilt the system, which made me stay an extra hour longer at work than I wanted to (I don't get any overtime). This morning I came in to find that most of the machines in this room are now infected with SirCam.

What does this mean? Later on today I will go down, bring up one of the machines, and rebuild the clone disks, this time with a lot more restrictions, granting the Physics undergrads a lot less freedom with this machines that we have allowed in the past. Why? All because some dork took it personal that he couldn't use State owned machines for playing illegal copies of games on.

2001 Oct 30 (Tue), 16:54 Name Of The Game

Okay, I wanted to set the record strait (as in "George"). From my last entry you may think I'm anti-gaming or something, which couldn't be further from the truth. Anyone who knows me knows I am a gaming fanatic. I authored "A Brief History of Home Video Games" (and one day I will go back and update it! ;-), I own some 5000+ games spread across 30+ consoles (this guy had nothing on me), I regularily play games under Linux (I am Sinister Sam in most multiplayer network games, eg Quake I|II|III). Anyway... never doubt my fanaticsm with respect to gaming. Plus, I'm not really overly harsh with the 272 undergrad lab, I just clean it up Mondays, or as the need arises (for example, if we get any complaints from other students ;-) I don't have the time to police 272... I have other responsabilities....

Anywho... I'm going to be turning an old 486 doorstop I have into a router. I was going to be all fancy and set it up myself using Linux, but I've decided just to use a pre-made solution (CoyoteLinux). Sure, that's not as much fun, but I just don't have the time.

Tomorrow I will be returning to my projects! Yay! I've gotten a lot of things out of the way, and should have a few hours of uninterrupted coding time. I will probably work on TuxReader as thats the one I've neglected the most.

Oh... and I read the Wil Wheaton Slashdot interview. Awesome interview. Actually made me feel guilty for disliking the guy all these years.... the dude's a geek like me ;-) Hope he does alright on the celeb Weakest Link coming up (primarily because of the EFF link).